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Articles / Applying to College / Should We Send Early Refundable Deposit to Safety School?

Should We Send Early Refundable Deposit to Safety School?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Jan. 4, 2012

Question:My son was accepted to a college that recommends sending in his school deposit early. This is his safety school so he may or may not go there. They encourage sending in the deposit (this is not a housing deposit but is the school deposit) early so that he can get better housing. The deposit is refundable. He is still waiting to hear from other schools. If I send in the deposit now, will other schools have knowledge of this and possibly not accept him?

Although most colleges are not allowed to extract commitments from prospective students until May 1, some schools work around this by offering refundable deposits. If the deposit to your son's "safety school" is affordable, it's fine to send it now. This information will not be shared. It will have no effect whatsoever on his other college outcomes. However, do double-check that there won't be any absurd hoops to jump through should you want the deposit returned, and be sure to remember get it back if your son matriculates elsewhere. (I suspect that some schools make a little dough off of candidates who lose track of deposits and don't ask for refunds when they are entitled to them.)


Alternatively, before sending any money, you can grill the admission folks about what, exactly, this deposit provides. Without it, will your son get less desirable housing or perhaps no housing at all? If this is a college that guarantees housing to all freshmen and if the frosh residential options are fairly comparable, then there really isn't any “better housing,” and you need not bother with the deposit until your son makes his final choice.

(posted 1/4/2012)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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